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Thank you to Hachette Children’s Books for kindly sending me a copy to review. All thoughts are my own, however.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: anxiety, grief, murder, gore and PTSD.
Release Date: October 10th 2017 (paperback)
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Goodreads Review: here
Bone white. Blood red. Along this path, you’ll soon be dead.
Following the horrifying revelation of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth flees her home in Victorian London to enroll as the only female student in Europe’s most prestigious forensics school. But it’s impossible to find peace in the dark, unsettling Romanian castle that houses the school—and was also once home to the depraved Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Prince Dracula.
When a series of troubling deaths brings whispers of Vlad’s bloodthirsty return from the grave, Audrey Rose and her sharp-witted companion, Thomas Cresswell, must unravel the cryptic clues that will lead them to the shadowlike killer—living or dead.
R A M B LE
I try to make it known that Kerri Maniscalco is one of my favourite authors. I don’t know If I’ve made that clear, but I love her. Is that too far? She just seems like an incredible person and I am absolutely in love her writing. Hunting Prince Dracula met every expectation I had and more. Maniscalco manages to weave a haunting and mysterious tale that incorporates romances between incredible characters. She puts her twist on historical fiction and she does it well.
This book features some things that the first didn’t, though. We still have the feminism in place for our main character, and even more feminist characters are introduced throughout the novel. However, the events of the first book are weighing down on our main character. Audrey Rose is plagued with flashbacks to what happened (what I’m labelling PTSD) and anxiety, while also dealing with an immense amount of grief. I’ll speak more on these later, but the author deals with these particular topics in a way that is perfectly integrated into the story. The mental health incorporations are seamlessly introduced and, in my belief, treated with care as they should.
I’m not sure what else I can ramble about. This book features a diverse cast and is one of the only historical fiction novels I can find myself sitting through without getting mad about the treatment of women. Audrey Rose and Thomas are incredible and the overall cast of characters is beyond interesting. Not a single event in this book can be viewed as filler and it is my belief that this book in no way suffers from second book syndrome.
P L O T
Hunting Prince Dracula is quite clearly a mystery. Our main characters are looking at becoming forensic scientists (I believe? They basically cut open dead bodies) and are now travelling all the way to Romania to further their studies. This is pretty amazing since Audrey Rose is a woman in the 1800’s.
However, wherever our main characters go mystery follows, it seems, and soon the pair is caught up in the strange murders that are plaguing the village near them. Villagers are going missing and the legend of Dracula is returning. The puncture marks and lack of blood in any of the victim’s bodies make it easy to believe one thing; the Strigoi have returned.
While all this is happening, Audrey Rose is struggling to come to turns with what happened in London a few weeks prior to her attending this school. The idea of another killer on the loose sends her into a spiral of fear. It was interesting to see her reactions to certain events, how she had to do her best to remain unflinching in order to be seen as an equal to her peers. I loved seeing the friendships she made and how she did her best to remain ‘a proper lady of society’ while doing things that no one of that era would approve of.
The mystery is beautifully woven in a way that you are second guessing everyone. I worked out it was pretty early in the book but I was second guessing myself the whole way until the reveal. It was incredible. I could barely keep my draw my dropping. I was also grinning giddily in public at other parts.
So, warning, don’t read this in public if you are afraid of people watching you.
C H A R A C T E R S
#A U D R E Y R O S E
Audrey Rose is everything I want to be and more. She is an icon. I have gone through some events in my life that have lead to me being slightly untrusting and cautious of new people. However, in some ways, Audrey Rose has gone through more traumatic scenarios and still fights for her rights in a man dominated world. An absolute icon.
Throughout this book we witness her discovering herself more. Who she is when she isn’t surrounded by people she grew up with and when the restrictions that society have placed on her seem to get left behind. It was enchanting. Can I say that? Well, I just did. I just absolutely adored seeing how she dealt with situations and viewing her struggles with her mental health.
It was absurd, in some ways, to see struggles I face on a day to day basis reflected in another character. I don’t know. Whenever there is PTSD in a book I immediately have so much love and appreciation due to my own struggles. Especially when it’s done amazingly well. And, let me tell you, it was like Maniscalco had gone into my head and plucked thoughts and feelings to put in text. I just have no words to describe how reading a character so like me felt.
#T H O M A S
Thomas Cresswell is the actual love of my life. I have never read a character who I would love to meet in person (and probably fall in love with him only to be rejected, it’s how my life goes, friends). He is everything I want in a man. I truly didn’t know it was this possible to fall in love with a character. I may need to change degrees and learn how to create humans (I have no idea on science, clearly) so I can form my own Thomas Cresswell for myself.
On a more professional note (big joke there, when are my reviews ever professional?) Thomas is an incredibly complex character. The way he develops and grows in this series. His charm, his sarcasm, his adoration for Audrey Rose. It is all so completely swoon-worthy. The fact he is merely there to be her sidekick rather than the focal point. He is okay taking the backseat and letting her drive which is a dream.
Thomas was a tad absent this book due to mistakes he made and were dealt with amazingly, but I could still feel his presence as we learnt more about his past and how he was connected to Romania.
Basically, I love Thomas Cresswell and I would give away all my books to find a guy like that (not really, but let’s pretend).
O V E R A L L
Overall, Maniscalco did it again. She has delivered another incredible story that leaves you on the edge of your seat in anticipation. She has delivered a story with a full cast of characters that will instantly become some of your favourites. She has delivered a masterpiece, in my opinion, that has immediately shot to my favourite 3 books of this year (maybe ever). I am truly anticipating book three and what I can do to wrap my greedy little hands on it despite the fact it’s only in the draft stage.
Happy reading, everyone! And, if you have time, you need to pick up this series.